A Free Lunch - Chimes Article 03/01

A Free Lunch

I can’t count the number of times I have been told that there is no such thing as a free lunch, but this week I want to ask you a question in response. And that question is, “really?”

Come on. Really? Honestly? Let’s get real here. Come on. Seriously.

When I was checking my junk mail a few days ago I came across a scrumptious coupon for a free Quizno’s sandwich. I myself, being both hungry and very cheap, viewed this as an ideal opportunity to satiate my need and want for food.

Being a reasonable man, I did what anyone would do and sent additional free coupons to two or three of my other e-mail addresses before printing them. This is, after all, America. I then took one of said coupons to my local Quizno’s sandwich shop.

It was then that disaster struck.

Apparently that little phrase at the bottom of the coupon that says “offer only valid at PARTICIPATING stores” means that no stores actually participate. When I held up my black-and-white printed coupon (color cartridges cost a mint these days) my joyful expression was met by an employee repeatedly tapping a sign that read “No Free Sandwich Coupons.”

In retrospect, I might have over-reacted when, in response. I punched the stand of Sun Chips and then swiped my arms across the counter while screaming “You KILLED the dream! You monsters! You butchers!” The whole situation reached a tumultuous climax when I slammed my hand down on the rotating sandwich oven and kept eye contact with one Quizno’s employee for an expressionless 30 seconds. I was burned. Burned bad. Both emotionally and physically. I was also still hungry.

Not one to actually spend five bucks on a meal, I continued on my way. My Tom-Tom GPS said there was another Quizno’s only four miles down the road.

Unfortunately, it seems that Quizno’s corporate offices have been making major cutbacks on their expansion, probably as a result of their decision to give away free sandwiches rather than accepting money for them, because when I arrived at the next “Quizno’s” I found an abandoned building. Looking inside, I saw a hobo warming his hands from the decrepit sandwich oven.

“Excuse me, kind old sir, do you know where the Quizno’s is?” I asked him.

“It’s right here,” he said, pointing to his head, “In your mind.”

“No, I mean the sandwich store,” I clarified.

“Oh yeah, they shut it down,” he nodded.

Blast! Fooled again! But I had come too far to give up. I was past the point of no return. There was no way I was going back to work without a free lunch.

Legends had told me of a mythical Quizno’s that lay in the realm of an office building lobby. It was a solid twenty minutes away, but I knew I could make the trek. I put on my snow galoshes just in case; the weather here in Southern California is as unpredictable as a minx.

Long was the drive, but I pulled up to the Quizno’s and blew the dust off the door handle before entering. Clearly this place had withstood the test of time.

“Don’t be alarmed,” I told them. “But I have come for a turkey bacon guacamole sandwich. A free turkey bacon guacamole sandwich.”

They nodded knowingly and, as if reading my next thought, they replied, “Would you like onions on that?”

“No,” I said, “I want EVERYTHING.”

Later that day, as I filled my empty gas tank from the long journey, I rubbed my stomach with the satisfied knowledge that, yes, there is such a thing as a free lunch.

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